Tricia Duryee

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Classified Provider Becomes BFFs with Facebook

San Mateo, Calif.-based Oodle, which is the exclusive provider of classified ads on the Facebook Marketplace, is revamping the way it does business to create an even tighter bond with the social network.

The company, which launched in April 2005, originally set out to aggregate classified ads from various media outlets to list on its own site, but Craig Donato, founder and CEO of Oodle, said Facebook has now become bigger and is generating 80 percent of its traffic.

Just like with newspaper classifieds or listings on Craigslist, users can post items they want to sell or buy on Oodle or the Facebook Marketplace. Many Facebook users may recognize it from the weekly email the service sends out detailing what items are for sale in their extended friend groups.

Donato said Facebook has become the ideal intermediary to make connections for selling vs. Craiglist, which has gained a reputation for sketchy, or just flaky, behavior among its anonymous users.

“It’s people not showing up, or they show up and say they’ll give you half price. But once we start to introduce an identity, and show how you are connected through mutual friends, or the same college, it introduces social norms. It’s people acting like real people.”

In this scenario, Donato thinks it could even encourage people to recycle items–as opposed to making a profit off them.

Oodle commissioned a survey, which was conducted by Harris Interactive, that found 69 that percent of U.S. adults said they’d rather give away or share unneeded items with friends or acquaintances rather then sell them. In the new format, users can share a “want ad” that’s visible to friends.

To that end, Oodle is mostly scrapping its original business in favor of increasing its relationship with the social network.

It will no longer seek new deals with media outlets, and will push users on to sign up using Facebook Connect. It’s also redesigning the way the listings look, and changing the way emails are designed.

Is it too much reliance on Facebook?

Donato doesn’t think so: “It is the social fabric of the Internet. Facebook has established a social layer and we want to fully embrace it.”